This is a good project to start this blog with. The Oak Clatterbridge was installed in time for the new school year, September, 2013. Portfield School is my nearest Special School and is an award winning school. I introduced myself to the Head Teacher after doing some Musical Play work for nearby Manorbier Primary School in 2008. When a new Secondary School was built to add to the Primary School in 2009/2010 Portfield were able to order some Musical Play too.
I installed three oak frames with musical instruments – two for the new school, one for the Primary. The Head Teacher had asked for the tops of the posts for these frames to be carved with a Giboshi shape – a shape I had learnt to do making oak features for Japanese Gardens (in Wrexham and at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire). This is a good example of how all the different kinds of work that I’ve done can inform the projects that follow.
For this Oak Clatterbridge there was a process of competitive tendering so my quotation was the lowest of the three. I decided to make the Giboshis for the bridge posts to make the work match the other three oak frames at the schooland be part of the tactile nature of the bridge. The edges of the posts and handrails are chamfered and sanded by hand. The school specified the height and
width of the bridge, of the steps, and the handrails. Special care was taken when installing to keep the artificial grass surface around the bridge clean and clear of soil etc.
After installation my wife, Miriam Scott, and I returned to take photos of the Clatterbridge with the children using it. We were fascinated with the reactions of the children, with one boy slowly mouthing the word ‘Bridge’ as he stepped on it. This led to Miriam writing the poem below: ‘Bridge’ after watching the children getting acquainted with their new equipment and finding out what they could do on and around it. To celebrate the first blogpost of Art of Oak, itself a bridge to the future, here it is: ‘Bridge’.
We have something new in our class garden,
called Bridge. Doesn’t go anywhere,
even over water. Or have
boats go under. Bridge over nowhere.
Stands rooted in pretend grass.
So if you fall you’re not hurt.
Bridge has four pillars. Two one end,
two the other. They’re wood called oak.
Glow like flowers honey smooth, silky.
Each pillar top round
smoothiness but pointy too.
I love to touch, stroke oak.
Bridgeway hangs low between
pillars two by two.
Seven wood bits, rope joined,
sweet to walk on, silky wobbly.
Go down a little, in middle. Then up.
Small steps up down each end.
Handrail to hold on but I don’t usually.
I can jump up and down on it.
Or sit near on pretend grass.
Think never old thoughts.
Jump up, surprise myself.
Run over bridge again, no handrail me.
Chase shadow, tall, up ahead.
Taste happiness, faint and sweet as air.
Something new in our class garden today,
called Bridge. From somewhere
I love to touch, stroke oak.
©Miriam Scott 2013
Postscript: I do love bridges. My favourite handmade object is the Brooklyn Bridge – built before the age of electricity, before people knew about ‘the bends’ – I came across and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge in 1981 and was there to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1983 – it is the most beautiful amazing wonder of the world – an inspiration and a marvel.